A/N: Hi everyone! This is the new, improved Misguided, and it will be slightly different from the other one, so prepare yourselves. And if you are a new reader, welcome and please ignore everything you just read.
In this story, I'm imagining the Teens as a little bit older, about eighteen. If you don't like it, you can just pretend differently.
Disclaimer: I don't own Teen Titans or any of the books mentioned here. Oh well.
"This is soooo boring!" moaned Beast Boy.
"Then go get a comic book," said Cyborg testily.
The Titans had decided to go out to the library for the day, as there seemed to be an unusual moment of quiet. They must have put away quite a few 'baddies' this month. Or the police force of Jump City was finally becoming more competent.
Cyborg tried to balance the three hefty books he had gotten (all on the themed around cars) while he looked for his friends. He saw Starfire playing with children in their section; Robin was in the sports section flipping through some karate books. It seemed Raven disappeared. Thus began the search between the seemingly endless rows and rows of books. Just as he was getting frustrated, he finally found her sitting at a small study table, a mountain of books towering over her head.
"Hey Rae, we gotta g…" he was cut off by a raucous nearby.
As he looked around, he was surprised to see Control Freak sitting, hands cupped, on one knee. In front of him was a young woman dressed in normal civilian clothes (which normally would go without saying, but with Control Freak and the Teen Titans at the library it was worth noticing), with her hands on her hips. The only discernable features about her were her unusual dark, long hair, and her unusual height for a female. From the distance, Cyborg could tell that she could probably head-butt the chin on his six-foot-seven frame. Control Freak seemed to be pleading with her.
"Come on, Kale! What's wrong with me? I'm…"
The girl standing in front of him cut him off, "What's wrong with you is that you're a self-absorbed couch potato, you don't care for any type of literature that is not being transmitted via satellite, you consider walking from your apartment to the grocery store exercise, and you don't even try to better yourself or help people in anyway!" She seemed to calm down, putting her hand on her hip and balancing a few books on her other hip. She brushed her black hair away from her face. "Besides, this is probably the first time you've been to a library in years!"
Ignoring the stares from all around (except Raven, Cyborg noticed, he doubted she had even heard him since he had first spoke to her), the girl turned on her heel and marched towards a high shelf. She climbed up a ladder to the top. Cyborg watched as Control Freak ran around the ladder and shelf, to the other side. He saw the fat little man climb up the ladder on the other side. Cyborg had a sinking put feeling in his stomach that this would not end well. Subconsciously, he tensed his leg and arm 'muscles'. As the girl pulled back a book, she saw Control Freak's face. Surprised, she fell from the ladder with a scream.
Cyborg moved fast. He caught the girl and the books she was holding. Her dark hair swirled around her suntanned face. Cyborg had just a moment to stare at her violet eyes as she recovered fast from her terror.
She said shakily. "Thanks, dude. I really owe you."
Cyborg smiled and set her down as he said, "Don't mention it." He glanced down at the books as he handed them back to her. "Six copies of To Kill A Mocking Bird, three copies of Nanacy Drew and the Scarlet Hand, two copies of Treasure Island, and one copy of Motor Awarness." At the last title, Cyborg looked up at her, surprised, "You like cars?"
She blushed a little. "Um, well, I guess. One of my teachers wants me to write an essay on cars. It kind of stinks because I know basically nothing about cars, and all the books are getting me nowhere."
Cyborg smiled at the chance to expound his knowledge on a subject. "Well, I could show you a few choice titles, if you want. I know a lot about cars."
She brightened immediately. "Oh, you could? I'd be really grateful; I'm really having trouble with this, and I don't have much time." As if remembering the subject of time, the girl began to look around wildly for a clock, which the library was sorely lacking.
Cyborg shrugged, "Sure, if you want I could explain som…"
"Nooooo!!" Control Freak jumped up in front of them, waving his arms madly. "Nooo!! Kale, what about me? What about our love?" he asked, teary-eyed, latching himself onto her leg.
She looked down at him and said coolly, "You're a sad, strange little man." She wiggled her leg until he was shaken off.
Control Freak hung his head. "I know." He sniffed.
She turned her attention back to Cyborg. "Let's go before he floods the place. He'll calm down once he finds the DVD section."
They walked in a (seemingly) random direction. Control Freak's melodramatic sobbing faded quickly.
They walked past a few aisles before Cyborg said, "By the way, my name's Cyborg."
She stopped walking, smiled and extended her hand, balancing the books in one arm. "Kale Aster, nice to meet you." She scowled. "Um, are green spiders poisonous?" She asked, pointing to his shoulder.
Cyborg flicked it off. "B, go tell everyone to go get a pizza. I'll meet you guys there."
As Beast Boy changed back, Kale squeaked and jumped behind an impressive (and most likely, fake) vase. She seemed to realize a moment later that the green boy was one of Cyborg's friends, and tentatively stepped back out. She made an attempt at smiling warmly. Beast boy took a moment to make sure Cyborg saw his raised eyebrow, which he did, then left grumbling something about everyone having a girl but him.
Cyborg and Kale walked around for a few more minutes, books stacked high in the girl's hands. "Uh, Cyborg?" Kale asked after him quietly. Cyborg turned around to see instead of her head, an old copy of Cars' most Incredible Feats. "Can we stop?"
Laughing outrageously, Cybog lifted the books from her rather skinny arms and set them at a table. Kale collapsed into a chair, and, upon seeing him shaking with quiet laughter, she raised an eyebrow. "Oh laugh it up, funny boy. See if I ever help you with a huge stack of books." She crossed her arms and turned away in mock anger. Her eye peered around. She eyes his muscles (which he, as a teenager, immediately flexed under scrutiny) and seemed to deflate a little. "You know what? Never mind."
Still laughing, Cyborg sat across from her. The wall next to them was made up of windows, and Cyborg noticed that her eyes seemed more purple than violet when the sun hit them.
"I guess we'd better start at the top." Kale reached for the top book.
They sat for a little while, Kale reading out loud and Cyborg helping her when she got stuck, which was often. When a giant clock at the other end of the library went off, Kale's head snapped up.
"Ohhh… no! I'm going to be late." Flustered, she started to scoop all the books she had had and three of the books that Cyborg had been able to help her through with minimal effort, into her arms.
Cyborg grabbed five books. "Hey, do you need a ride? Sorry I kept you late."
Kale shook her head, her dark waves flying. "No problem. But, yeah, I do need a ride. If you wouldn't mind, I'm really sorry about all the trouble I've caused you today."
Cyoborg shook his head, shrugging. "No problem. I don't get to make a lot of new friends, since I'm at the Tower so much." (They had, among speaking of cars, moved to the T-car, then the Tower, and finally the Teen Titans themselves).
They started forward, but Cyborg looked behind him when Kale said, "Man, I might not know much about cars, but I do know that you're not supposed to do that."
Cyborg looked out the window and his face dropped, along with the books. "Man, I know those runts aren't messing with my car!" He charged out of the building hollering his head off.
A few minutes later, after Cyborg had chased the two boys who had been spray painting the car orange up and down two city blocks, and had spent quite a lot of that time crying over 'his baby', he remembered he had left Kale. Jogging, back inside, he found her with a bored look on her face as the old woman checked out each of the books with painstaking slowness.
She smiled at him. "Hey. I didn't know if you were coming back."
Cyborg rubbed the back of his head. "Yeah, well, they were spray paintin' my baby, I had to teach them a lesson."
"Yeah I guess you did." Kale said, starting to place the books in a large bag at her hip, smiling good-naturedly, not at all angered that he had pretty much ditched her for a car.
As he saw the Nancy Drew, To Kill A Mockingbird, and Treasure Island, books, he said, "Aren't those a little young for you. And how come you got so many?"
Kale flashed a smile at him as she dumped the last of the books into the bag. "I teach literature over at the orphanage. We don't have a lot of books, so I go out every once in awhile.That's why I'm so late, I gotta be there in, like, fifteen minutes."
Cyborg took the bags and jogged back outside, shouting over his shoulder, "Come on, I'll give you a ride."
Kale hesitated only a second (then the clock gonged again, marking the half hour) before going outside. Cyborg was surprised to find she was an extremely fast runner and got to the car before him. They drove along, Kale explaining that she had started to teach at the Jump City's East Side Orphanage a year and a half ago, while taking up a college course.
"And before you came to the orphanage?" Cyborg asked conversationally.
Kale was silent. Cyborg looked across the seat and saw her eyes were a very dark purple, and it wasn't because of the dimming light. When she spoke, her voice was low. "I can't remember. I woke up on a cliff one day and hitched a ride on a mule cart, then went wherever I thought was good, though most of the times I was running away from something bad. The only reason I remember my name in this ring I found on my finger. Really, my name might not be Kale Aster, but I've always assumed it was and it feels right for me. When I tried to find my parents by asking the locals, everyone in a nearby village gave me strange looks until some old woman told me they probably perished in a battle on the hillside. Then I just left. At the time, it seemed like the right thing to do."
"It probably was." Cyborg said softly, remembering how he had left the scientist that had turned him into a metal man. Neither wanting to leave on a bad note or just let the silence between them lay Cyborg said, "Well alright, how's the orphanage."
Kale brightened immediately, and she laughed and joked with him about the things the children do to their teachers and how she did secret things for them so they were not unnecessarily unhappy. That is, until she told Cyborg to turn left instead of right.
"Cyborg, what're you doing? We have to turn left here." Kale said when she saw which way the blinker was pointing.
"Really? They built an orphanage down this street?" Cyborg's eyebrows knitted together.
Kale sighed. "Yep. Now I know what you're thinking. The East Side's bad enough, but this is the worst block in the entire city. And it's true, but these kids aren't bad… they're just misguided."
"I'm sure they're all fine." Cyborg said, even though he was not.
Cyborg saw where to go immediately. It was a large graffitied house that had probably been there since people settled in the city centuries ago. Large pipes barred windows and there were probably old wooden or steel hooks on the other side of the story-high doors missing a single, large wooden bar that was meant to keep out crusaders and marauders.
Despite the building's historical architecture, it was not a pretty sight. There was trash strewn about the front and sides; wet newspapers stuck to the bottom of the building like plaster. One window was broken and a bar had been ripped from its place. Fragments of pipe and glass littered the street. The playground was red with rust and in poor condition; the monkey-bars' bars were all but gone in most places, the slide was dented (Cyborg sincerely doubted that kids could have done the damage there) and the merry-go-round creaked eerily, a can of Coors in the center. Outside, on steps that were dusty with dead leaves and exhaust, a nun was shooing away two men whose (like many of those who had been broken over the years) age could not be guessed.
Kale didn't let the obvious poor condition of the orphanage daunt her, nor did she seem embarrassed as the T-car's shining surfaces gained the attention of almost everyone around. Cyborg noted here that there was an astonishing amount of teenagers that were not in school, despite the fact that he was sure there was one less than a mile or two away and that the truant department, which was found in the police department, was closer than that.
As soon as the car stopped, Kale jumped out and put her hand out for the books, stuttering over thank-yous and goodbyes. Cyborg handed the bag to her and ignored the surprised look on her face when he got out of the car too, carrying the books that would not fit in her bag. They walked inside, neither of them paying much attention to their conversation about the best kinds of ice creams to give kids.
Kale nodded amiably to the nun at the door, who smiled slightly, before turning back to the two men who were bothering her. As Cyborg saw Kale's back disappear, he turned the men.
"Y'all got to the count of five to get your butts out of here!" He said, smiling evilly. The men looked at each other for a moment before running, their backs fast vanishing down the block.
"Thank-you, young sir. God Bless You."
"Er…. You too," Cyobrg answered, slightly uncomfortable.
Before the accident, he would go with his mother every Sunday, though he never really got into it. It was more a practice to appease his mother than anything. When he joined the Teen Titans, he tried to keep up with it, but soon he went less and less, and eventually, he stopped altogether.
"Ah. You're young Kale's friend, eh?" the nun asked, as if she had not just seen him get out of the car with her.
Cyborg nodded mutely, slightly intimidated by the hunched old woman.
"She's nawt a believer. She will come to church, but I ken tell she does nawt enjoy it. She does not speak of the Bible outside of church, lest she has to.," the woman spoke with a long accent, annunciating her vowels more than usual.
"Cyborg, dude, you comin'?" Kale appeared at the large doorway. "Hi Sister Abril."
The nun nodded at her before taking up a broom that Cyborg had failed to notice.
Kale ran down to him, "Come on, you'd better hurry."
Cyborg looked at her, eye twinkling. "Why should I, you're the one that is late?"
Kale closed her eyes, put her finger in the air and said matter-of-factually, "Ah, but if you wish to beat me, you'll have to run fast." Without another word, she raced up the steps.
It took Cyborg half a second to process what she had said. "Hey! You'd get back here!"
When Cyborg won (for even though Kale was fast, she was no match for him), he did a little victory dance, before Kale dumped her share of the books on him, declaring that the 'winner carries books'.
They walked down the narrow entrance hall (Cyborg noticed as the doors closed that he was right, there were two empty brackets on either of the double doors). There were five doors on either side of the hallway, a hallway on the right side of the third doors. Cyborg could see at the end of the hall, there was a large room with an archway replacing the door. He had to press himself to wall with Kale as a nun in a food-stained habit hurried past with a large pot to the archway. Despite the cook's destination, inside, he could see children running, so he assumed that it was a gym and cafeteria.
He followed Kale down the left hallway. There were two doors on either side on the dim hallway, which was even narrower than the first. Kale stopped at the first white door with the paint peeling off on the left side.
"Well, this is where I work," she gestured to the door, "and that is where I live," again she gestured, this time to the second door on the left.
Cyborg stepped in to a scene of chaos. Throughout the room, many small children jumped around and talked. In a small corner in the back of the room sat teenagers (some of them, almost as old as Kale), though comparably less, in almost-silence, many of them nearly perfecting their indifference act and all perfecting their glares.
Cyborg quickly took stock of the room. The walls had been painted, coat over coat, over the years. The original color appeared to be yellow, but someone (most likely Kale herself) had tried paint the room a vibrant green, like the color of maple leaves. There were six rows of desks four desks deep, starting from the back of the room forward. Where the seventh row of desks would be, there were old shelves, about three feet high, under an open window, atop which, there was a small girl with brown braids. There were a few empty desks, but still the room seemed slightly crowded. There were four feet of empty room from the desks to the green chalkboard. On the far wall, there was another white door, which led (Cyborg assumed) to Kale's room. A battered desk was in one corner, and Kale took the books from Cyborg to it without startling the class from their talking and rough-housing.
She seemed extremely out of place, Kale. As she walked back towards Cyborg, she pulled her hair into a ponytail, and placed black thick-rimmed glasses on her face. Still, she wore jeans and a deep blue tee-shirt. Her skin looked as if she had just been to the beach. It did not seem at all professional for a teacher to look like her students, especially surrounded by habit-clad nuns, but it did not seem to bother the few students who had, evidently, noticed her entrance.
"Class, this in Mr. Cyborg. Say hello." Kale called in an imperious but friendly voice.
The smaller children, upon hearing her voice, settled down instantly and returned to their seats, obeying the order both vocal and non, "Hello Mr. Cyborg"
Cyborg smiled and waved, "Hi."
"Class, today we are starting verbs. New for the younger, review for the older," Kale smiled at her rhyme, earning a few chuckles from the younger students. "Get out your workbook. Tommy, will you please hand out a sheet of paper to everyone?"
As the small redhead boy went to obey her order, Kale turned around and walked Cyborg to the door. "Again, thank you so much for your help; I would have been poked to death by the nuns if I was late." She waved her hand to silence Cyborg's reply. "You had better not leave your car out too long. People here don't take too kindly to people with nice stuff, and if they found out it's a Teen Titan's car, then you will be lucky to find the steering wheel."
Before Cyborg could ask her what she meant, she had smiled, thanked him again and closed the door. By the sound of her voice from the other side of the door, she was teaching the class once again. Shrugging it off, he went outside, and sure enough, he had to chase half a dozen cretins off his car. All the way to the pizza place he was wondering about Kale Aster and if he would ever see her again.
A/N: Duh. Duh. Duh. Will Cyborg ever see Kale again? What will his friends say? Did Tommy hand out all of the papers? Well, how'd everyone like the first chapter? You know what to do. Review! Hey, I'm just like Kale!